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Gourmet Chocolate Showdown: Valrhona vs. Amedei

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Gourmet Chocolate Showdown: Valrhona vs. Amedei

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zeprosnepsid | | Jun 11, 2007 04:50 AM

My boyfriend recently got very interested in Gourmet Chocolate. He's always liked sweets so I ignored this. I didn't really like chocolate, and I'm also lactose intolerant so I was even less interested. But it became clearly this hobby was here to stay and I began to learn more about it. Like the fact that Dark Chocolate has no milk in it. And that gourmet dark chocolate doesn't taste anything like the commercial dark chocolate I was very opposed to growing up.

I started to taste some of his relatively gourmet chocolates but I wasn't very impressed (this included stuff like Green and Black's Maya Gold). But then I was introduced to very gourmet, vintage bars from Italy and France! In Italy they call them 'Cru' (like wine) -- where the beans all come from the same plantation -- and boy, I can't get enough.

Enough long intro!

Recently we compared Valrhona Trinidad and Amedei Trinidad. And Valrhona Venezuela and Amedei's Chuao bar (with beans from Venezuela) which has famously been voted the best bar in the world.

And now, some observations: The first observation is that my taste buds are a lot more sensitive than my boyfriend's. He said he read that women's taste buds are more sensitive than men's. But I think it has something to do with the fact that he eats a lot of spicy and msg-infused super tasty food and I eat a lot of plain things. Anyone know the science of this?

I found the Valrhona bars to have a much more enjoyable consistency than the Amedei bars. I'm not the kind to let the chocolate melt in my mouth. I like to chomp. And the Valrhona bars are fun to chomp. The Amedei is almost too smooth (perhaps better for melting?).

Both Trinidad bars are good. The Trinidad taste, to me, seems to be outstanding in it's lack of outstandingness. It's just chocolate. Not too bitter, not fruitty, not too nutty. Just good, solid, straight chocolate. Both my boyfriend and I found the Valrhona a little more pleasant. The Amedei just had less to offer.

But the real test was of the Venezuelan chocolates. I immediately understood why the Amedei Chuao was voted the best in the world. I've never tasted anything like it! I checked the ingredients like 7 times. It says "cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla" - really? that's it? Because the taste is crazy. I think it's really fruitty. It tastes like chocolate covered berries. And the taste is so complex. It lives on and on and your mouth (it even got stuck in my throat a little and I drank some tea and it mixed with the remnants in my throat and mmmm....). I mean, it's just crazy. Every bite I said I couldn't believe it. My boyfriend, on the other hand, with his burned out taste buds, didn't get what I was talking about.

The Valrhona Venezuela on the other hand starts off good. I bit in and got a burst of smoked berry flavor. Wow I thought. Then I kept chewing and huh...what is that... oh I don't like that. A bitter almost burned aftertaste. I think the Venezuela gives too much away -- too much flavor in the initial bite, and then leaves you unsatisfied with the aftertaste. Unlike the Amedei, which gives you less of a flavor blast but a more sustained experience that doesn't let you down. If only it had the consistency of the Valrhona!

I don't have the boxes around anymore, but I think both Valrhona bars are only about 64% cacao and the Amedei ones were 70%.

Anyway, I wanted to know what other people's preferences were. Do you think the Amedei Chuao "best bar in the world" is worth the high price tag? Does anyone else agree that these 'cru' bars taste a lot better than the hybrids? Do you prefer Valrhona or Amedei? Do you prefer Trinidad beans or Venezuela? (We have a Valrhona Madagascar bar we haven't tried yet...)

And what is your favorite kind of gourmet chocolate? My boyfriend has tried just about everything Whole Foods has to offer (Dagoba, Green and Blacks, Scharfenberger) and I've tried a couple of them. But I'm very interested in these other Italian and French companies. I'm going to try some Domori next. Which of their bars do you suggest? Or which of other company's bars?

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